I am fortunate to stay at the ONLY hotel on the Avenue de Champagne in Epernay. The Hotel Villa Eugene is a Nineteenth Century home that belonged to the Mercier Family. If course, it has been completely renovated, all 15 rooms that is. The architecture, style and history have been kept intact to preserve the tradition of this former family home.
A heated pool, too!
The outdoor heated pool might be tempting after a rugged day of champagne tasting in Reims and Epernay. It is also located in the heart of a large wooded park. And would you believe the rooms are air-conditioned? And solar panels! A rarity in France!!! The rooms have been inspired by Louis XVI.
This will be home for three nights, and 5 star no less. And some of the best and most famous houses in the world are mere steps away. How fortunate am I? Many kudos to Ric, my erstwhile travel agent/explorer/animal activist.
photo_1_6.jpgI am in this exact room, #15!
La piscine Not bad!
Once here, I managed to walk over and barely made the last tour at Mercier. In fact, a private tour, since I was the last taster of the day, in English. After a brief audio guide for a history lesson, my guide took us down about 30 meters to the huge limestone caves.
My guide was a lady from Japan, who tired of teaching English in Tokyo. Here, she met the Frenchman of her dreams, has two children, and will never go back. She was curious about me, so we exchanged a great deal of family history, and farming information. She invited me back on Saturday for a visit to Moet et Chandon, just down the famous Avenue de Champagne.
You will be struck by the enormity of these caves, all laid out in parallel and perpendicular lines, each with a number. Mr. Mercier wanted to have the biggest and best cellars in Epernay. The entire cave tour lasted about 30 minutes, on a totally automated underground tram, with English narration.
Finally came the three champagne tasting with a delightful young French lad. We got to taste the regular brut, special brut, and my favorite, brut rose’. The regular brut was aged for only two years, compared to three for the special brut. Even a novice like me could discern the subtle and not too subtle differences, in richness off the palate, the longer finish, and a greater fragrance of apples, and even perhaps bread.
We got into some nice discussions about grape harvest in California with the drought. I also explained the Napa Valley phenomenon as well. Of course, they freaked out when I told them I have been wine tasting all over the world, like Chile, Argentina, New Zealand, Russia, Washington, and Oregon.
Alas, the day was going well past banker’s hours, and I needed to leave. Yumi will set me up at
Veuve Clicquot and Moet et Chandon for Saturday. In fact, as I walked to dinner, I recognized many of the old champagne houses, such as Perrier-Jouet, Dom, Pol Roger, Grand Cru, and Mercier. I plan to visit all of them today and tomorrow.